• The Wellness Workshop

THE TOP 7 BENEFITS OF MEDITATION CLASSES

Updated: Jun 22

By Melani De Sousa, Founder, Wellness & Intuitive Eating Coach at The Wellness Workshop.



Ever toyed with the idea of trying meditation classes but stopped short because you felt it was only for people who woke up at 5am, wore overpriced active gear and sipped on green juice? The misinformed idea that you need to be a ‘certain kind of person’ to meditate or practice mindfulness keeps many of us away from trying this century old practice that provides numerous benefits to our mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing. Now more than ever, low cost solutions to reducing stress, improving mood, and minimising the burden of disease is essential to ensuring we live a better quality of life amongst the chaos of our modern world.


what is meditation?


Originating in Asia, with the first documented evidence of the practice around 1500 BCE, meditation; from the Latin term meaning ‘to ponder’ is a technique that encourages and develops concentration, clarity, mood regulation, awareness, deeper understanding, and relaxation. Meditation has many forms including movement meditation, transcendental meditation, mantra meditation and mindful meditation. Mindful meditation is arguably the most popular, with over 1 in 6 Australians reporting regular participation of meditation practices.


what are meditation classes?


Meditation classes can be done anywhere at any time and are usually guided by a qualified Meditation Teacher. If you are new to meditation, meditation classes can seem daunting or intimidating, however having the presence of others around you and the expertise of a teacher can make the experience far more effective than trying alone at home. Depending on the type of meditation, you will be invited to sit upright on the floor, on a chair or even lying down comfortably on a mat. There is no ‘right’ way to position yourself, so whatever feels comfortable and safe is acceptable. Some classes will play soft music, include instruments such as meditation bowls, bells or chimes, and others may only include the sound of the teacher’s voice. Regardless of the format, meditation classes offer a host of benefits – some of which we have listed for you below.


WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF MEDITATION CLASSES?


Meditation classes can be done anywhere at any time and are usually guided by a qualified Meditation Teacher. If you are new to meditation, meditation classes can seem daunting or intimidating, however having the presence of others around you and the expertise of a teacher can make the experience far more effective than trying alone at home. Depending on the type of meditation, you will be invited to sit upright on the floor, on a chair or even lying down comfortably on a mat. There is no ‘right’ way to position yourself, so whatever feels comfortable and safe is acceptable. Some classes will play soft music, include instruments such as meditation bowls, bells or chimes, and others may only include the sound of the teacher’s voice. Regardless of the format, meditation classes offer a host of benefits – some of which we have listed for you below.


1. Expert guidance of an experienced teacher

A commonly asked question from many of our new clients is what to expect from a meditation class, particularly their first one. The great thing is that unlike other forms of meditation where you may be alone, using an app on your phone or following written instructions, meditation classes in a group like the ones at The Wellness Workshop give you access to an experienced teacher who can answer your questions, offer reassurance, and provide individual tips for integrating the practice of meditation and mindfulness into your everyday life. Our teachers also use meditation instruments, carefully selected music and a variety of scents (from candles or diffusers) to enhance the overall experience and provide a calming environment that actively promotes relaxation.


2. Structured format

I’m sure like many of us you may have tried meditation or mindfulness at home but have been interrupted by a phone ringing, screaming kids or even the sound of the washing machine finishing. In contrast, the structured format of a meditation class ensures you are closed to the disruptions of the outside world and left in peace to focus your awareness on the sounds of your breath, the voice of the teacher and the flow of your thoughts. Being in a meditation class also discourages you from walking out halfway through, regardless of how busy your mind feels and how strongly you want to give up. This enables you to really give it a go and potentially develop a regular habit out of it, no matter how difficult it might seem.


3. Shared experience

Ever heard of the saying ‘power in numbers’? Similar to the buzz you feel in a group fitness class as opposed to working out alone, meditating with a group of people in a meditation class amplifies the overall experience and creates a sort of Zen-like energy in the room. In fact, according to Yoga International, recorded EEG results performed during a meditation class showed brainwaves of participants synced while meditating. The connection is so strong that a 1988 study of a small English town in the late 80’s proved the existence of a ripple effect of peace in the surrounding environment when a test group regularly meditated together. During the study, the town’s crime rate dropped substantially, with no other factors accounting for the change. More benefits linked to meditating in a group can be found here: https://yogainternational.com/article/view/6-reasons-why-group-meditation-is-awesome


4. Habit formation

Developing a consistent habit of meditation is essential to reaping the benefits of this widely studied practice. The development of a habit gives us the ability to do something almost automatically without having to think very much about it. This means the need for willpower or motivation is much less of a factor in the decision-making process. All habits require 3 things – the Cue, the Routine and the Reward. Meditation classes held at a regular time on a regular day provide the structure needed to create a habit. The time of the class acts as the trigger, the routine is driving or walking to the same venue, seeing the same people, sitting in a similar chair, while the feel good endorphins and relaxation felt after the class act is the reward. Over time habits can become so strong, that without realising it you’ll end up attending the same meditation class for years.


5. Connection to others

As we get older, our circle of friends gets smaller…therefore it is no surprise that we tend to be more selective of the people we surround ourselves with. Participating in a regular meditation class can provide you with a sense of community and connection to like-minded individuals around you. It’s a great way to meet new people in your local area and gives you the opportunity to build friendships based on commonalities outside of work or your career.


6. No technology or handheld device required

We find it a little ironic that sometimes the very thing that may cause you stress e.g. your phone is the very thing that is encouraged as the facilitative tool when learning to meditate alone or for the first time. Being in a meditation class with the support and guidance of a qualified teacher means you don’t have to worry about blue light emanating off your screen, interruptive notifications, battery life or even just knowing how to work the application. The only thing that is stopping you from enjoying the benefits of meditation class, is stepping into that room and leaving the worries of the world behind you (even if it’s just for half an hour!)

7. Meditation changes your brain

With the use of functional magnetic resonance imaging scans, scientists are now demonstrating the effect mindfulness meditation has on the brain, even when performing normal everyday tasks. In just one of these studies, Sara Lazar and a team at Harvard University found, over an eight week period, that areas of the brain such as the hippocampus (the area responsible for learning and memory) and the amygdala (responsible for fear, anxiety and stress) changed physically in appearance and volume. These changes were matched with self-reports of the participants who expressed feeling calmer and happier. Similar studies also illustrate mindfulness meditation’s positive impact on anxiety, addiction and concentration with just 2 hours of meditation per week.


want to book a meditation class for you or a group?


If you're new to meditation and want to find out more, or simply want to experience a meditation class with us at The Wellness Workshop, click the link below and scroll to the bottom of the page: https://www.thewellnessworkshop.com.au/services


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Melani De Sousa is an Accredited Wellness Coach and founder of The Wellness Workshop, a Health At Every Size (HAES) wellbeing centre offering one-on-one meditation classes, group classes and private classes for schools and business. She is also an Intuitive Eating Coach, Personal Trainer, magazine contributor, blog writer, and presenter.